The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'drum machines'
Things I didn't know until today: the E-Mu SP-12 drum machine/sampler, which was designed in the 1980s by Roger Linn and whose gritty 12-bit sound became a staple of hip-hop production, was designed to use a Commodore 1541 disk drive for external storage.
This is a 5.25" self contained unit with its own power supply and a serial interface. It was the best choice in 1985, when 3.5" drives had yet to appear, and an internal 5.25" would have taken up too much room. The diskettes are used to stored samples and sequences
The account of the steam-powered drum machine, or rave culture meets steampunk:
Soon after the crowd had entered, the doors were locked tight so as to prevent intrusion from representatives of the Law. Van Hoovenaars then unveiled a huge and terrifying contraption. A multitude of brass pistons, steam cylinders and horns had been fashioned together, as like the internal frame of a fire-spewing Behemoth burst forth from teutonic myth. The professor addressed his audience, explaining that each piston reverberated on to a canvas of varying thickness to produce a series of rythmatic beats. He warned the gathering that once set in motion the machine "would produce such rhythms that man has never dared imagine - over an eleven hour period".
I was walking past Manny's in Fitzroy today, and stopped in, finding that they had a few items on sale. Hence, I ended up buying a copy of Waldorf Attack, the VST analogue rhythm synthesizer plug-in. (Something I had been meaning to get my hands on for a while; though the fact that it was on sale sealed it.)
It's pretty doovy; one can make all sorts of sounds with it, from analogue drum sounds to the sorts of bizarre noises found only in German laptop electro and Warp CDs, and miscellaneous odd burblings, hisses and insane ring-modulated cacophonies. And the fact that one of the preset kits it comes with is comprised of video-game sound effects is encouraging.
I laughed out loud when I heard the start of the "Beat Box 3" sample song, though; there it was: a perfect knock-off of the Casio VL-1 "Rock 2" pattern (that's the one from Ninetynine's Wöekenender).
Also on the Sisters site: a page listing all the incarnations of Doktor Avalanche, in excruciating technical detail:
Roland TR808. In the early nineties, as acid house was developing a cult around this drum machine, it was suddenly very fashionable to riff along to TR808 sounds. We did that almost ten years earlier, when the cocktail drinking classes and the NME thought it was a bloody stupid idea. (One wet afternoon in the early eighties, we switched the Doktor to play the usual stuff but twice as fast. Hey presto! Drum'n'bass! This was interesting for about ten minutes. Even Cabaret Voltaire couldn't manage to make it interesting for much longer. Please don't tell us it's interesting now.)
After talking for some time to a very suspicious secretary, we managed to get through to the awfully nice people at a certain defence contractor in Leeds. Usually they make military-specification field devices for launching bad stuff at even badder people. That sounded appropriate, so once we'd discussed the possibility of razing Lancashire to the ground (which is apparently not an option right now), we asked them to put together a computer from the most primitive components currently available - which means a fast 486 motherboard - in a shock-resistant rackmounted enclosure, with auto-switching power and a plasma display. We wanted it to run DOS 3.3 and we wanted an identical spare rig, because cargo-handlers do more damage than the average military encounter, and we like to have one Doktor running while we're fixing the other.